Birmingham approves lane reduction to prep for crosswalk on Brown Street

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published July 12, 2022

 The city of Birmingham has approved a resolution that paves the way for a new crosswalk connecting the south side of Brown Street to the south side of Forest Avenue.

The city of Birmingham has approved a resolution that paves the way for a new crosswalk connecting the south side of Brown Street to the south side of Forest Avenue.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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BIRMINGHAM — In pursuit of a safer community for pedestrians, the city of Birmingham plans to install a pedestrian crosswalk at Woodward Avenue, connecting the south side of Brown Street to the south side of Forest Avenue.

“We are working to create safer pedestrian crossings in the city, especially at the Forest Avenue/Brown location on Woodward,” Assistant City Engineer Scott Zielinski said in an email.

While safety is at the top of the City Commission’s mind as they discussed this matter, there is one aspect of the project that had to be addressed before the Michigan Department of Transportation approves the crosswalk.

“For the improved crosswalk, we will reduce eastbound lanes on Brown near Woodward from two lanes to one per MDOT’s request,”  Zielinski said in an email.

MDOT’s request is intended to reduce conflicts with pedestrians as vehicles are turning right. MDOT said they will accept the crosswalk if the lane reduction is approved.

The City Commission discussed this project during its meeting June 27 when a resolution was adopted to reduce the travel lanes on eastbound Brown Street between Peabody Street and Woodward Avenue from two to one.

The adopted resolution also directed the Multi-Modal Transportation Board to evaluate permanent street designs incorporating one eastbound vehicle travel lane for Brown Street from Peabody Street to Woodward Avenue for later recommendation to the City Commission.

Brad Strader, a principal at MKSK — a planning, design and landscape architect firm — presented this proposal to the City Commission.

This topic was prompted by a history of fatal crashes in the proposed area. Within the last two years, the area has experienced two fatal pedestrian crashes.

Commissioner Elaine McLain commented on the importance of a crosswalk during the meeting.

“I would just say thank you very much for all of this effort and information, and to the public: a reminder that a crosswalk is sacred. You cannot blow through a crosswalk. As a pedestrian, we have a responsibility, of course, to look both ways, but no matter how vigilant you are … the pedestrian crosswalk is sacred, so please respect that,” McLain said.

In addition to this current project, the conversation about crosswalks brought up an additional location where a solution may be needed.

Commissioner Clinton Baller asked about an area just west of Peabody on Brown Street where people walking to a fitness club often cross.

Strader addressed Baller’s question by sharing options that they have discussed regarding this issue.

The major options for this include a new pedestrian crossing, which he said may interfere with traffic flow, or additional landscaping to direct people to cross at Peabody instead of in the middle of traffic. This item may be discussed further at a future meeting.